Caracal (Caracal caracal)
resized by bert
The Caracal is a medium-sized cat. Caracals are labeled as small cats, but are the heaviest of all small cats, as well as the fastest. The Caracal resembles a lynx and for a long time it was considered a close relative of the lynxes. It is in fact related to the Serval. The Caracal is 65 cm in length (about 2 ft), plus 30 cm tail (about 1 foot). The colour of the fur is variable: it may be wine-red, grey or sand-coloured. Melanistic (black) caracals also occur. The most conspicuous feature of the caracal are its long, tufted black ears, which also explain the origin of its name—"karakulak", Turkish for "black ear". Their ears are controlled by 20 different muscles, to help them find their prey. The tufts of fur help pinpoint their prey.
Caracals are distributed over Africa and West Asia. Their habitat is dry steppes and semi-deserts, but also include woodlands, savanna, and scrub forest. They are solitary, or paired, territorial cats. A caracal may survive without drinking for a long period—the water demand is satisified with the body fluids of the prey. It hunts at night (but in colder seasons also in the daytime) for rodents and hares; rarely it may even attack a gazelle, a small antelope or a young ostrich. They are most well-known for their skill with hunting birds; a caracal is able to snatch a bird in flight, sometimes more than one at a time. Caracals can jump and climb exceptionally well, which enables them to catch hyraxes better than probably any other carnivore.
Sexual maturity occurs at about 20 months. Gestation is 70 - 78 days and between 1 to 4 young are born.